Sunday, July 8, 2012

Dutch Oven Deconstructed Hamburger Salad

This Dutch oven recipe is included in my Dutch oven cookbook, "Around the World in a Dutch Oven"

Wow.  I’ve been sooo busy.  I just realized that it’s been two and a half weeks since I first posed this challenge: to deconstruct the basic, traditional American hamburger.

I need to start paying more attention to myself when I make these challenges.  I struggled with this one as well.  How to use all of those basic ingredients, and make it fresh and new.  Here they are:

  • Ground beef
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Cheddar (or plastic) cheese
  • Onions
  • Pickles
  • lettuce
  • Mayonnaise
  • And, of course, the bun

I bounced a number of ideas around in my head, and struggled with all of them.  On the way, I realized that there is one type of dish that is significantly underrepresented here at the Black Pot: The salad.

There’s a reason for that.  You usually don’t cook salads, and Dutch ovens are a pot for cooking things in.  I suppose you could throw some lettuce and sliced/chopped veggies into a Dutch oven, toss it with some dressing and serve it as is!

Still, you can cook some elements of a salad.  That’s one reason I love big chef’s salads.  With meat, veggies and seasonings, they can be a whole meal themselves.  So, that’s why I decided to try this one that way.  The hamburger salad!

The lettuce goes from simple topping, then, to the basis of the dish.  The meat, on the other hand, becomes the topping!  What about the bun?  I turned that into croutons!  The sauces of the hamburger (ketchup, mustard, mayo) combined with other spices to make a dressing for both the meat and the rest of the salad.

Dutch Oven Deconstructed Hamburger Salad

Meat and sauce

12” Dutch Oven
22 coals below

  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • salt
  • pepper

  • ½  cup Ketchup
  • ~3 Tbsp Mustard
  • ~2 Tbsp Mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp dill relish
  • cayenne
  • salt
  • pepper


12” Dutch Oven

10-12 coals below
14-16 coals above

  • 4-6 hamburger buns
  • 1 stick butter
  • Seasoning Salt
  • pepper

The Salad

  • 1 head iceberg lettuce (or other greens)
  • 1-2 tomatoes
  • Grated cheddar cheese

Of all the elements for this dish, I was the least confident in the croutons, so I started with those.  I lit up some coals and, when they got white, I put them under one of the 12” Dutch ovens.  I put in the butter to melt, while slicing up the buns.  I did them in long, narrow strips, almost looking like french fries.  I think that next time, I’ll just cube them, so they look a little more like traditional croutons.  They’ll be easier to stir and handle.

Once the butter had melted, I shook in a liberal amount of the seasoning salt, maybe a teaspoon’s worth or so.  I added the pepper the same way, maybe a little less.  I tossed in the sliced bread and just stirred it thoroughly to coat each piece in butter and seasoning.

I actually had fewer coals on as I started, but I could soon see that it needed to be hotter to get the toasty brown I wanted.  So, I upped the numbers, as they’re written above.  I just kept the lid on and stirred them frequently to keep them browning, but not burning.

I got some more coals under another 12” Dutch oven, and diced the onions and minced the garlic.  I poured in some olive oil to heat up, then tossed in the garlic and onions with a little salt.  They started sizzling immediately, and I let them saute.

When they were getting a bit brown, I put in the meat to brown as well.

While that was cooking, I mixed up the sauce.  I started with the ketchup, and that was really the only one that I measured.  The rest I just mixed in and tasted as I went.  I was simply striving for a balance of flavors.

I stirred it up, then poured it in with the meat.  I stirred that, and let it cook for a little, but not much.  I wanted it to be a part of the meat, but not to evaporate or reduce.

Finally, the meat was done, the croutons were nicely roasted and brown, and it was time to assemble the salad

I started by shredding the lettuce and dicing the tomatoes.  I used the lettuce as the base of the dish, then added tomatoes on top.  I spooned some meat liberally over the base, and sprinkled some croutons on top of that.  Finally, I topped it by grating some cheddar on top.

My whole family pronounced this one a success!  I was pleased, too, not only because I enjoyed the taste, but that it was a new take on the burger (for me, anyway), and yet it still maintained a lot of the original burger taste. It had some salty and sour tones, and some sweet from the ketchup in the sauce.  The lettuce, of course, had a hint of bitter tone, and its texture made it feel like a salad.

Here are more cast iron dutch oven recipes, and Dutch oven cooking.

Mark has discovered a love of Dutch Oven Cooking. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

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